The first geocache is up online! You can check it out here. It’s ready for geocachers to hunt for it. Come cache the Andes!

Jack Finds his First Geocache in Yanamarca:

There are two of us from the Peace Corps environment program living here in the Yanamarca Valley:  myself (Alane) and my sitemate Kristi. We got here late in 2012 and met Chasqui, a local guide (and artist, athlete, museum docent, etc.) who took us under his wing and showed us around the valley.

first hike, K & A above valleyA chasqui was a message runner during the Inca era. They blew on a conch trumpet to announce their arrival. Our modern Chasqui loves to do the same. (If you want to hire Chasqui as a guide, his contact information is on Keteka’s Yanamarca page.)

chasqui near wellChasqui’s now a member of the GeoTour committee. But back in December of 2012, before we hatched the plan to create a GeoTour here, he took us to what is now the first of the geocaches that are part of the “In the Andes of Peru” GeoTour. It’s an Incan well, probably built around 1500. Here’s our picture of it from that first day. This is what it’s like in December, when the rainy season is just setting in.first view K cameraIf you walk down into the well, you can see alcoves on the left and right. These were probably for offerings to Yakumama, the goddess of water. Her symbol is the snake, and she is associated especially with the rivers that snake through Peru. The snake is also a symbol of the Ukhu Pacha, which in Andean cosmology is the underworld, the past and the unconscious. This well may have been used as a sacred site for connecting with the Ukhu Pacha. I’ve meditated there, and I found it to be a peaceful spot for it. Try it if you like.inside wellHere’s a picture from a day when we came here to take photos for an environmental calendar that Kristi and I made for her local government in Acolla. This was in March, at the height of rainy season, and you can see that when the water table is high, the alcoves are covered with water.Acolla 227By that time we had decided to create the GeoTour and I was busy writing a Peace Corps grant to help with the costs. I set up a cache close to the well. When Diego, our Peace Corps supervisor, came to visit us in April of 2013, we took him and his assistant Reilly to visit the cache. I gave them my GPS unit and they got the chance to learn how to geocache for the first time. Reilly spotted the cache box before long and was the first to sign the log. Our project was underway!

Later on, in May, we had a visit from a group of university student from Olivet College. They wanted to lend a hand with projects here, so they planted trees,planting treeshelped out with a project to preserve genetic diversity of potatoes by taste-testing different varieties,Olivet 152and visited the well

Olivet 157and tested out this geocache for us. In the future, the Yanamarca Watershed Committee and Peace Corps hope to work with to offer more of these kinds of voluntourism experiences here in our valley.

Olivet 161I guess I’ll always have a soft spot for this cache. It’s been a big help in demonstrating to people what geocaching is all about. Now that it has been published online on , it’s the first active cache here in the state of Junin in Peru: The Inca Staircase Well — Escalera Inca Pozo.

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